March 2017 Bar Bulletin
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March 2017 Bar Bulletin

The Right To Hunt and Fish: States’ Constitutional Push Gaining Steam

By Gene Barton


A few months ago my in-laws came up from Oregon for a visit. As my father-in-law lost interest in the conversation being dominated by my wife and mother-in-law, I found a fishing show on TV to entertain him.

The host was on the Mississippi coast — as best I can recall (and given later research) — and a state politico was his angling guest. At one point, the guest mentioned a then-current effort to amend the state constitution to incorporate a right to hunt and fish.

This was a new phenomenon for me and I was gob-smacked to hear that such a thing was even being considered, as these gentlemen exercised their existing, uncontested right to reel in fish up to the limit. As the credits rolled at the end of the show, I noted that it was shot in 2013.

My subsequent research (as noted above) for this article revealed that Mississippi is far from alone in this respect. The Magnolia State’s constitutional amendment was adopted in 2014 with 88-percent support. Texas adopted its right to hunt and fish amendment in 2015. Indiana and Kansas followed suit in the November 2016 general election, where similar constitutional amendments passed with 79-percent and 81-percent majorities, respectively, making them the 20th and 21st states in the Union to adopt such legislation.1

States with constitutional provisions providing for the right to hunt and fish2

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